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Clärchen's Ballhaus, Berlin

24 Auguststrasse
Germany 10117
Tel: 49 30 282 92 95's insider take:

A prime pickup joint for lonely yet light-on-their-feet Berliners since 1913, Clärchen's Ballhaus reopened in 2005 after a year of closed doors. But it has luckily managed to escape the renovations that have homogenized other traditional Berlin spaces—only the bathrooms, kitchen, and bar were modernized—and even some of the bow-tied, old-timer employees have remained (the coat-check man is a vestige of another era). Lined with silver streamers and vintage fixtures and furnishings, the huge ground-floor ballroom offers tango and swing nights as well as lessons in standard ballroom dancing during the week; weekends attract elderly regulars (many of whom dance breathtakingly well), young art-worlders, and the occasional celebrity (Charlotte Rampling was spotted here during the 2006 Berlin Film Festival). The music is sometimes live, sometimes DJ-spun, and sometimes unapologetically cheesy (Beach Boys, anyone?). Worth a look is the fantastically ornate hall upstairs—a stunning chandeliered event space whose mirrors and moldings haven't been touched since the 1920s. Before cutting the rug, try a thin-crust pizza or German bockwurst at the tables in the front garden, a favorite summer spot.

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